Navy to conduct large-scale antiterrorism exercise

By Brock Vergakis
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NORFOLK - Sailors will don battle gear and take up fighting positions at U.S. naval bases starting Tuesday in the nation's largest anti-terrorism exercise, officials said.

Navy installations in the continental United States, Guam and Hawaii will participate in Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield through Friday. The exercise is intended to give officials a snapshot of military readiness, as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks approaches, by reviewing the response to multiple attacks.

The Navy plans to simulate real-world threats, incorporating lessons learned from the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, among others.

Security officials will track scores of potential threats and sailors' responses to them from a control room at Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base. Army and Marine Corps officials also will observe the exercise, which is being coordinated by U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Scenarios could include an explosive detonating on a Navy base or a bomb threat at a recruiting center. Civilians might see service members in battle gear with guns and military dogs, and in fighting positions at some bases.

"You want to train the way you fight, so if you don't make it real you're not getting the full training that you not only should get - you have to get - out of it," said Capt. Sam McCormick, U.S. Fleet Forces director for fleet anti-terrorism.

The Navy said the exercise involving more than 250 scenarios is not a response to a specific threat but helps identify where forces are vulnerable. A review last year found that some things could be improved, McCormick said.

"You have ships personnel trying to coordinate with security personnel on the shore that we found, quite frankly, we could do it a little better," he said.

All facilities will have heavy security, and traffic delays are expected near many bases. Recreational boaters will probably see tighter security along the Navy's waterfront.

- Associated Press

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